Since the birth of my daughter nine weeks ago, I have spent hours holding her and bouncing on a swiss ball. Although it has been some of my most treasured time, it is not my favorite core exercise. I instead turn to the kettlebell. The kettlebell is an awesome tool for training strength endurance and building explosive power. Kettlebells also allow you to effectively train the core but more importantly both the posterior and anterior chains whether you are doing simple swings or Turkish get-ups.
I wanted to share my top three favorite kettlebell exercises that target your core. They are the halo chop, figure eights, and windmills. The reason I love these exercises is that they do not isolate the muscles that make up the core, but instead activate the muscles of the torso while integrating movement in the upper- and lower-body. Try training the following exercises three times a week to build a solid core foundation.
Here are descriptions of the exercises…
The halo chop:
You may be familiar with the halo which traditionally is a shoulder mobility exercise that starts with the kettlebell in the bottom up position holding the horn with the bell in front of your face. You then circle the kettlebell around the head. The halo chop adds the core and legs to the equation by starting with the kettlebell next to one hip. You circle up around the head and down to the other hip. It is a little hard to visualize so check out the video from Fit Squad.
The Figure Eight:
Works your core, obliques and legs. Start with one kettlebell between your feet and take stand a little wider than shoulder distance apart. Bend over like you are sitting in a chair and pick up the kettlebell. Now you are going to pass it to your other hand between your legs. Swing it around the outside of your leg and back to the center switching to the the other hand in a figure eight pattern. Go back and forth for several repetitions. Again a hard to visualize exercise so here is a great video by Adam Steer breaking it down.
I previously posted on how the windmill helped my yoga practice (check it out here). The windmill primarily targets the obliques. Clean and press a kettlebell overhead with one arm. Keep your arm locked out at all times, push your hip out in the direction of the locked out arm. You will be reaching toward the floor with the non-working hand and turn your feet out at a forty-five degree angle from the arm with the kettlebell. Lower yourself as far as possible. Pause for a second and reverse the motion back to the starting position.
Let me know how you like these exercises and post your favorite core exercise in the comments.